This was another 7 AM starter, but this time we could skip the bath since the plan was to island-hop. This was a custom plan since we had a flight to catch at 3 ish, and typical plans ended later than that. After another hearty breakfast, we waited. One of the hotel boys knocked in a while, and happily announced that he would be the tour guide! It would seem that the original guide had vanished. Instead of the tricycle planned for the drop to the pier, we got a van, and almost reached the boarding point for the Honda Bay tour. Almost, because we took a ‘shortcut’ that got us to a boat that was brand new! I think it probably even hadn’t gotten its permit yet! A tiny patch of paint hadn’t dried on the boat floor. D promptly chose to step on it, and fell. She didn’t show me the bruise then, but the purple spot still hasn’t gone! Nice start! The good part though was that we had the 10 seater boat all to ourselves.
The plan was to go to 3 islands, an official guide announced. The first was Luli island, which had a nice blue diving board, which we didn’t try. A Japanese group also arrived and were posing away as usual, and obviously chattering incessantly. The cafe there was only just about opening as we left. The next stop was Starfish island, and there was a nice long stretch to walk. Our hotel guide insisted on snapping our pics regularly! By the time we left, the school group from the previous day made their appearance, this time in ‘colour dress’. The last stop was Pandan Island, the most touristy of the lot, and with the highest entrance fee as well, which covered a table/cottage charge as well. We chose a table and then proceeded to go swimming, much to the relief of the guide who was afraid that our enjoyment would be incomplete without swimming. Amazing water it was, temperature and colour, and we spent an hour before having the lunch that the Mercedes guys had packed for us. There are also live sea food counters if you’d like those. The place has clean shower areas and cubicles to change.
The return trip was uneventful, but at the point of unloading, our bag broke and the camera almost fell into the water! Nice end. We had to wait for a few minutes before our pick up van arrived. The hotel owner and his wife, an elderly couple, were in it and they played some great 70s tracks as we drove back. A shower later, we were ready to leave. The entire package without the island entrance fees (750 pesos for 2) but including the tours (Mercedes arranged them for us) cost us 9000 pesos. They were really a friendly bunch of folks, and we’d recommend the place highly.
After paying an airport fee of 80 pesos, we waited for the Airphil express flight to Manila. It was a short flight, but they gave us nuts and biscuits! I asked for coffee, and regretted it. Black! At Manila, (Terminal 3 again, so no transfers required) our next flight to Kalibo was delayed! It actually turned out to be the same flight we’d come in. This time, I declined coffee! The flight was half empty and by the time we landed, it was quite dark, though it was only just after 7. The airport had this on-the-decline feel to it. We were met by our transport guys, and after a short wait, led to a bus. D was pissed because she had been promised a van. We had paid 2200 pesos for a 2 way transfer, (Boracay Best Deals, because they got us the room in a place we wanted, but My Boracay Guide might be a good option, I think, though they cost the same) but could see 250 pesos/person (for one-way) signboards, though it wouldn’t cover the last bit of our journey to Boracay. You can get to Boracay from 2 airports – Kalibo and Caticlan. The latter is better and nearer, we chose Kalibo only because it had night flights operating. Caticlan is a smaller airport and dos not have flights that land later in the evening.
The bus driver seemed to be having an argument with the crowd, but we finally started. After an hour and 45 minutes of twists and turns and dark stretches, we reached the Caticlan jetty. Carrying luggage into the boat was our own headache! Thankfully, the boat fees had been paid! We ‘walked the plank’ into a crowded boat. D got irritated when they dropped a tarpaulin sheet to cover the ‘window’, but the waves that followed soon after made it a wise decision. Some massive rocking and 15 minutes later, we reached the Boracay side. A van was waiting for us…and others. Another ride, during which we dropped off the others, we stopped on the roadside. We were a bit dismayed because we had chosen our hotel Boracay Coco Huts solely for the beach view! But it turned out that the last 100 metres or so had to be walked. The hotel was indeed on the beach, and the room was really cool – small but classy with lots of wood and a balcony, but we learned soon that they had a problem with hot water!
We wanted a quick dinner before we crashed, so we ignored our list and dropped in at Aria, which looked decent. Italian food – pasta, pizza, and a San Miguel Pale Pilsen (quite solid!) later, (1300 pesos and good food) we were ready to drop. It was around this time that I began noticing that the Philippines’ traditional costume (for women) was hot-pants. With that promising thought, I closed Day 3.